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I'm a stayathome mom of 4yr old and 18mo old boys. We read, take walks, limit tv, paint, bake. My 4yr old has taken to chasing everyone with sticks (swords) and turning my gentle stories/games into something more violent. Is this is a 4yr old thing? If not I don't know where its coming from. We live in a rural community and there are very few boys in our social circle and none his age. He often chooses one child at our playgroup and refuses to share with him/her and announces "they can't play". I pull him aside and gently try to explain how hurtful this is and redirect. This rarely works and the behavior escalates. We end up leaving- him crying/angry and me feeling impotent and defeated, as no other child seems to do this to this extreme. I've begun to limit our socializing with the kids that trigger this behavior, thinking that I'll try to seek out a more positive connection for him. The problem is, I'm becomng more and more isolated, as there aren't that many options for socialization where we live. I grapple with the frustration of why does he act this way, of him becoming "labeled" as the mean kid (when he oftne times plays beautifully with others), and for my lack of appropriate response. I've begun to dread going to anywhere these days because it ends up just not being fun due to some sort of tantrum and public humiliation. I feel so alone because I don't know the right words to say and have no one in a similar situation to emulate. He's growing increasingly disrespectful to me and I alternate between rationalizing "oops, he must be tired, hungry, etc..." and gently reasoning, to the "I'm your mother and I said so" approach (which I really dislike but when I'm grasping at straws I revert back to how I was parented) - neither of which seem to work. I feel schizophrenic- some days I think, well, this is a phase and I have to understand and help him through it. Then the next day I'm all about time outs and not taking his tone and lack of respect. He starts preschool in Sept, which will help in terms of socialization for him, but still, I feel like I'm a pretty ineffective mom. I'm trying so hard and feel like I'm being beaten down, daily. Can anyone help?
 

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I clicked on this link because you said "I don't have the words" and I always have words! :LOL

But I have not btdt and it seems like a challenging situation. You have an older child at a difficult age (I think a lot of three and four year olds do what your ds does) and a younger sibling. He could have feelings about the younger sibling, or it could just be his age. And I am too chicken to tell you want to do because I haven't been through this age, I've just watched other parents of children that age struggle like you are struggling. (people to emulate? I've only seen parents struggle with four year olds, no one to emulate!)

For what it's worth, it sounds like you are doing many right things. Perhaps you can plan out his snacks and naps to avoid lows during the day? Does he still take a nap? He's a little old but maybe he needs some "quiet time" at nap time?

What do the other children do when he refuses to share or doesn't want to play with one child at playgroup? How does he feel about that?
 

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Sounds similar to my almost 4 ds. With him, the sticks shoot dynamite or he pretends to be a robot that is attacking another robot (he watched a show called Robot Wars that my dh had on tape. It accidently popped on after the train show that my dh had on tape ended. I didn't know it was there and it really caught ds's fancy. Teams of people create robots that they then pit against each other like gladiators).

Some kids he plays really nicely with and others it's just fighting over toys. I decided that next time we get together with a certain family we will do it at a playground with no toys brought.
 

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Running around with sticks is not abnormal. he may be high energy and need the outlet. He may also not be about playing in groups. I think you're right to find one or two kids he can play with. Maybe have them come to your house.

My boys are very gentle, loving people at 11 and 16. They were not very into violent play, but they both did like sword play and they did like high energy games. My 12 yr old daughter was the same exact way, and she is also not violent.

Running , jumping, hooting and hollering is not wrong. It's kid play. Some kids are not into it and others are. wanting to play with sticks does not make him a violent person, it makes him pretty normal. We keep trying to take the wild out of children and it's not necessary.

we want to let kids know it's never ok to hurt people with the sticks etc. But I tend not to get involved or direct my children's play. Their play needs are not about me. I notice even my 6 yr old will say 'Privacy, please' when she is playing with her animals or whatever. I disrupt the flow, and inhibit the magic of immagination.

I think it's fine not to do group things with him. I think it's fine to let him run around with sticks. As long as he is not hurting anyone, i would stay out of the play. Kids process the world and stories in their own way during play. I don't think we adults even have a right to interfere in that. Play is extremely personal.

Keep his protein up, don't take him out if he's hungry, tired etc and try to embrace his energy. I know it's hard--esp when the people around you might have perfect little flower fairy waldorf children who like to sit and look at books or gently pour sand and wouldn't think about touching a stick. I mean, that's fine too. But just because our world values the quiet, sedentary child doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with yours.

He's only 4-- tweak his world a bit before you try and tweak him.
 

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to you cosmoma!!! I am going through the same thing with my almost 4 yr old!! What a relief!!! I don't have any advice to give, I'm actually here in hopes of getiing some, but wanted to let you know you are not alone
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by UUMom
perfect little flower fairy waldorf children
:

Isn't that the truth!!!

I also love what was said earlier about how *everyone* struggles with 4 year olds
No kidding!
 

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I wanted to add that with my ds, talking about the other child's feelings does absolutely no good during the heat of the moment. It even makes ds seem worse to the other mothers because ds doesn't seem to give a hoot about hurting their feelings. If he does something nice, I might say that so-and-so seems happy that you gave him that. Rather than appealing to ds's undeveloped ability to see other's point of view, I might just say that the rule is everybody is allowed to play, rather than he is hurting someone's feelings.
 

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Another schizophrenic mom of a 4yo here! I think in my case it's because I really haven't commited myself completely to GD principles.
: I still am afraid, somewhere deep in my soul, of raising a brat. I don't have a chance to see a lot of GD'd kids, and the one or two I do see sort of annoy me. :LOL GD (or at least positive discipline) FEELS right, though, so it's what I try to practice most often. But then DS will backtalk or not "do as I say" and I flip out on him, threatening and yelling. Arg. It's hard, it really is.

The self-checks in the stickied thread help me, and reading books about GD, and really connecting with my DS through activities or play helps... What helps the most, though, is trying to identify the behaviors that are pushing my buttons, and then trying to decide (in a calm moment!) if they are something that my DS and I need to work on together, or something I need to let go. For instance - maybe I want him to go potty before his nap. He says he doesn't need to. I (in my bad moments) see this as defiance, but if I reflect on it, I realize that he's almost 5 years old, and has been pt'd since 28 months - if he feels he doesn't need to go, then I should respect that. But in another instance - say he wants to visit a friend, I say no, he rolls his eyes and says, "WhatEVER."
: - I reflect on it and decide that no, that kind of disrespect will not be tolerated, and is something we need to work on together. KWIM?

ANYWAY, you're definitely not alone. I love this age, but I don't so much love the way I deal with its hardships!
 

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It is so hard watching them be mean to other children! My oldest will be 5 next month and she really takes a leadership role and the playground and sometimes she excludes some of the others. It is really hard to watch and respond appropriately to. I usually just call her aside and tell her she should try to be nice to everyone. Sometimes this works (usually) and sometimes it doesnt. If it doesn't I usually end up getting disgusted with her and taking us home.
 

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Another mention of Bev Bos-- she has a book called "You Can't Say You Can't Play". I think it's fine to say 'Everyone can play" but not all kids, esp sometimes 4 yr olds, are all about hearing that. I think limiting large groups for some kids sometimes is OK as they manuever through a tough stage. Their brains will grow, their empathy will develop. Someday you will be posting that your 7 yr old is making you nuts with everything having to be fair *all* the time, that he is stuck on rules and not common sense.


Also, for words-- I think the book When Your Child Drives You Crazy by Eda Leshan might be helpful. It's not a perfect book, but it gives actual things to say to children in all kinds of situations. Maybe you can get it from your library. It's not TCS, but imo it falls under GD. LeShan has been profiled in Mothering on the Treasure page.

I think When Your Child Drives You crazy is mis-named and turns some people off. But it is a pretty good starting point for what sorts of things to say to your child when you are struggling for words.
 

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Playful Parenting (Lawrence Cohen) has some great stuff in it about dealing w/weapons/sticks/etc. Definitely worth a read.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by UUMom
Another mention of Bev Bos-- she has a book called "You Can't Say You Can't Play". I think it's fine to say 'Everyone can play" but not all kids, esp sometimes 4 yr olds, are all about hearing that.
An aside - You Can't Say You Can't Play is by Vivian Gussin Paley. It is a really great book and has some unique reflections and strategies. Regarding "left-outs" (which can take on some unique cultural/sexist/racist baggage at this point, unfortunately), we also read Horace and Morris and Dolores books and a few other great picture books, which deals with the "left-outs" issue. At her school a few months ago a girl with two lesbian moms was being excluded from play, based on what the children had heard at home. My daughter has become the voice of "no left-outs" with her friends. We had an issue with it about a year ago, when a friend who does tend to be bossy and crabby was being excluded, with my daughter doing it too. We talked about how even if someone was "challenging" , we still needed to find ways to play with and work with them, what were some ideas? And now it's good. She's five, but we started around four.

Another book that was very touching for me and might address some of these issues: Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful: Preventing Exclusion in the Early Elementary Classrooms by Donna Bryant Goertz. It is talking about a Montessori classroom situation, but it was really amazing - older children who are peeing their pants, and how children were excluding them, and how that was addressed so that there was a supportive, nurturing environment.
 

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I have an almost four-year-old dd. We are just encountering meanness as an everyday event.

We've been talking about how you don't always have to play with everyone, but you do have to be civil (in our case, whenever dd has a playmate over, she disses the neighbour boy, telling him that he can't come over, which is true, but impolite). When she is mean, I try to give her a more polite way to express the legitimate feelings behind her actions -- this can sometimes take me days of thinking (I might explain that she can nod at the neighbour boy and say that she would see him later). In your case, could you teach your son to say, "I'd like to play alone." instead of "You can't play"? He's not necessarily going to like every kid at playgroup. He needs to find a way to co-exist peacefully with them.

At playgroup, is the focus on sharing? For some reason, young kids find turn-taking a more palatable concept. Tell your son that it's his turn with toy X, and that little boy Y would like a turn when he's done. Kids can really get into turn taking. It can become the game in itself - your turn, my turn, his turn, now.
 
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